Foundation looks to spread hope through gifts
Walk the Walk expects to help about 400 families
Kim and David Mitchell stood in a mostly empty Glen Burnie warehouse, knowing that next month there would hardly be enough room to walk.
In the days ahead, boxes full of Christmas gifts for needy families will cover about 8,000 square feet of the space.
The warehouse acts as the seasonal home of the Mitchells’ Walk the Walk Foundation, which provides families, mostly in Anne Arundel County, with presents to put under the tree.
The foundation is on track this year to help about 400 families, including more than 1,000 children, the Mitchells said.
At its core, Kim Mitchell said, the work is about giving hope.
“The story that the world puts out is the story of Santa Claus — if you’re not good, you don’t get gifts,” she said. “And to me, that’s not hope. ... The reason why Christmas happened was to bring hope into the world.”
The Severna Park residents formed the nonprofit foundation in 2005. It sprang from a personal loss. Kim Mitchell was halfway through a pregnancy in the late 1990s when she went to a routine doctor’s appointment in December and was told her baby had no heartbeat.
A few years later, as Christmas approached, she found herself wanting to buy Christmas gifts for a boy who would have been her son’s age.
So Mitchell called her aunt, then the principal of a school in West Virginia, and was paired with families there with children who were the right age.
“I was finding families that really needed the help,” Mitchell said.
Friends began asking Mitchell if she would connect them with families in need at the school, and soon the Mitchells had matched 60 families in need with people wanting to donate gifts.
The Walk the Walk Foundation was formed a year later.
Today, the foundation works with the county and a handful of other organizations to compile a list of local families in need.
The Mitchells and a team of volunteers call each of the families on the list and find out clothing sizes, what the families need and what the children would like for Christmas.
Each family is then paired with a sponsor, mostly through local churches, who help with the family’s Christmas list. Donations from three county Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us stores help supplement some of gifts donated by individuals, the Mitchells said.
St. John Properties donates the warehouse space where the Mitchells keep the donations.
Last year, sponsors donated more than 200 bicycles for families through the Walk the Walk Foundation, Kim Mitchell said.
“My favorite part about it is ... seeing the kids ... being helped out with some of the basics that they need,” David Mitchell said. “Whether it’s Christmas gifts or school supplies or ... diapers and clothes.”
The Mitchells also use the Walk the Walk Foundation to teach their four children about the responsibility of giving back to the community.
And to Kim Mitchell, it’s still about giving more than just gifts.
“This is just my little way of sharing hope,” she said.
Those interested in sponsoring a family or donating to the foundation can email email@example.com for more information.
Kim and David Mitchell started the Walk the Walk Foundation in 2005. “The reason why Christmas happened was to bring hope into the world,” Kim Mitchell said.